Friday, November 25, 2022

How To Get Tested For Oral Herpes

Can Herpes Show Up In A Urine Test

Understanding Herpes Testing

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What Questions Should I Ask My Doctor

You may want to ask your healthcare provider:

  • What is the best treatment for me?
  • What happens if I dont treat a cold sore?
  • What are the side effects of antiviral medications?
  • How can I reduce the risk of future outbreaks?
  • Whats the best way to prevent getting another STI?
  • How can I protect my partner from getting genital herpes?
  • Should I lookout for signs of complications?

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If You Get A Positive Result Dont Panic It Really Doesnt Mean Much

All of this is to say that unless you have symptoms consistent with the herpes virus, why put yourself through the emotional turmoil of getting a blood test that may or may not give you legit results? As Hutcherson notes, if you do get a blood test and it comes back positive but youre asymptomatic, what does that mean for you if you have nothing to treat? For many, due to the high rate of stigma still surrounding herpes, it can mean feelings of self-contempt, humiliation, and distress, all of which could be avoided if you arent experiencing any symptoms.

To recap, while there are some tests for herpes that can prove correct, none are 100 percent perfect, and blood tests are particularly problematic since they can produce false positives and negatives. We also know that the majority of the population has some form of herpes, so IMO its a mystery as to why were still making a big deal out of it. No one likes blisters or sores, but neither does anyone love having acne, a widespread condition without the same level of attached shame.

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How Is It Treated

There is no cure for herpes, but treatment can ease symptoms and prevent recurrences.

Antiviral medications are very effective and very safe, even when taken for long periods:

  • Initial infections are treated for up to 10 days to reduce the severity and duration of symptoms.
  • Recurrences can be treated with short one day courses of episodic therapy, started at the very first sign of symptoms.
  • Frequent recurrences can be suppressed by taking a continuous daily medication. Suppressive therapy also has the advantage of reducing transmission to sexual partners.

People with herpes often switch between episodic and suppressive therapies according to their needs and circumstances.

Which Herpes Test Should You Get

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Each method of testing for herpes has advantages and disadvantages, from time and cost, to an increased possibility of false results. Often, people concerned about the virus use a range of herpes testing to get a more accurate, proven picture of whether or not theyre infected with HSV-1 or HSV-2.

Since herpes is a lifelong infection that cant be cured, its important to discuss testing options with your healthcare provider and make sure you receive an accurate result. Your healthcare provider will be able to tell you more about the best options for herpes testing based on your symptoms and situation.

Typically, your healthcare provider will carry out a physical exam before choosing the best testing method for you. As herpes symptoms tend to be worst during the initial outbreak of the virus, its best to talk to your healthcare provider as soon as you start experiencing symptoms.

In the event that you do have herpes, theres no need to panic. Both oral and genital herpes are extremely common, and a variety of effective treatments are available for both.

Our Valacyclovir 101 guide goes into more detail about one of the most common, effective drugs for treating both symptomatic and asymptomatic herpes. You can also learn more about the risk of catching herpes in our guide to how herpes is transmitted between people.

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How Long Does It Take For Symptoms Of Herpes To Appear

It generally takes anywhere from 4 to 7 days for herpes symptoms to appear. Both genital and oral herpes outbreaks have similar symptoms.

The primary symptom of a herpes outbreak is sores that resemble blisters, called herpes lesions, on the mouth or genitals.

In addition, people may also experience the following symptoms prior to the outbreak:

  • pain and redness, especially around the area the outbreak will occur
  • itching and tingling, primarily in the outbreak area
  • flu-like symptoms, such as fatigue, fever, or swollen lymph nodes

Most of the symptoms that occur before an outbreak indicate that the virus is replicating. Symptoms are usually the worst during the first herpes outbreak.

According to the

Some people with the herpes virus are asymptomatic, which means that they dont experience any physical symptoms of the disease. This doesnt mean that they cant spread the disease, however.

Anyone who has the herpes virus, whether symptomatic or not, can spread the virus to others.

If you have the herpes virus and your body has produced antibodies, it can be detected on a blood test, even if you have no symptoms. The only time the virus might not be detected on a test is if youve been tested too early.

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How Is The Test Used

Herpes testing may be used a few different ways:

  • Herpes simplex virus PCR testing or culture may be used to diagnose an active herpes infection if you have signs and symptoms, such as genital sores or encephalitis.
  • HSV PCR is the preferred test to diagnose newborns suspected of having neonatal herpes, a rare but serious condition in which herpes is contracted during vaginal birth.
  • HSV antibody testing may be used to determine whether you have been exposed to HSV in the past. This may be helpful in screening certain populations, such as potential organ transplant recipients. It may also be useful for pregnant women to help determine the risk of them passing an HSV-2 infection to their baby.
  • PCR and antibody testing may be used to distinguish between HSV-1 and HSV-2 infections.
  • The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention does not recommend screening for herpes in the general population, but it may be helpful in some cases, such as:

    • If you have signs and symptoms, such as genital sores that may be related to herpes
    • If you have or had a sex partner with genital herpes
    • If you would like to have a complete exam for sexually transmitted diseases , especially if you have multiple sex partners if this is the case, you should discuss STD testing with your healthcare practitioner.

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    Is There A Cure For Herpes Simplex

    There is no cure for herpes simplex. Once you have the virus, its a lifelong infection.

    What is the outlook for people with herpes simplex?

    For many people, the first herpes outbreak is the most severe. Many outbreaks are less frequent and milder after the first year of infection. Some people may have only one outbreak and never have another again.

    Herpes infection doesnt usually pose a serious health risk. The risk of a health complication due to herpes is higher in infants and if you have HIV/AIDS, cancer or an organ transplant.

    Are There Any Risks To The Test

    Protecting Against Herpes

    There is no known risk to having a swab test.

    There is very little risk to having a blood test. You may have slight pain or bruising at the spot where the needle was put in, but most symptoms go away quickly.

    If you had a lumbar puncture, you may have pain or tenderness in your back where the needle was inserted. You may also get a headache after the procedure.

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    Will I Have To Pay For The Test Out Of Pocket

    Youll have to check with your insurance network to see whether at-home STI tests are covered.

    Insurance does typically cover them, but sites like Everlywell recommend verifying the purchase with your insurance.

    Additionally, some networks may reimburse you for your purchase.

    However, most at-home testing sites arent currently partnered with any insurance companies, which means youll have to reach out yourself.

    If you dont have insurance, youll likely have to pay for the test out of pocket. Some sites like Priority STD dont accept insurance, so its a flat rate of $99 regardless of your coverage.

    How Can I Reduce My Risk Of Herpes Simplex

    Preventing HSV-1

    You can reduce your risk of contracting HSV-1 by avoiding physical contact with someone who has a cold sore. People can still spread HSV-1 when cold sores arent present, but its less likely.

    If someone has an active HSV-1 infection, avoid:

    • Sharing utensils, cups, lip balms or other personal care products.
    • Touching the skin near their mouth.

    Preventing HSV-2

    If youre sexually active, you can take these steps to protect yourself and others from the herpes virus and other STIs:

    • Be monogamous with one sexual partner or limit your number of partners.
    • Get tested for STIs and complete any prescribed treatment.
    • Tell your sexual partners if you have genital herpes so they can get tested.
    • Use condoms during intercourse and dental dams during oral sex.

    Wash your hands often if you have an outbreak or are around someone with symptoms.

    If your sexual partner has genital herpes, these actions can lower your risk of getting the virus:

    • Dont have sex when your partner has active symptoms. Condoms may not cover all sores, so you may still get the virus.
    • Make sure your partner takes antiviral medication as prescribed.
    • Wait to have sex until scabs fall off active lesions.

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    What Happens During A Herpes Test

    If you have blisters or sores, your doctor or nurse will gently take a sample of fluid from the sores with a swab and test it.

    If you dont have any sores, talk with your doctor or nurse about whether a blood test for herpes makes sense for you. But herpes tests aren’t normally recommended unless you do have symptoms.

    The idea of getting tested may seem scary, but try to chill out. STD testing is a regular part of being a responsible adult and taking care of your health. And herpes tests are quick and usually painless.

    What Happens At A Sexual Health Clinic

    Herpes Swab Test

    The doctor or nurse at the sexual health clinic will:

    • ask about your symptoms and your sexual partners
    • use a small cotton bud to take some fluid from 1 of your blisters or sores for testing

    The test cannot:

    • be done if you do not have visible blisters or sores
    • tell you how long you have had herpes or who you got it from

    Symptoms might not appear for weeks or even years after you’re infected with the herpes virus.

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    Testing With No Symptoms

    Blood tests can be used when a person has no visible symptoms but has concerns about having herpes. Blood tests do not actually detect the virus instead, they look for antibodies in the blood.

    IgM vs. IgG

    When an individual contracts herpes, the immune system responds by developing antibodies to fight the virus: IgG and IgM. Blood tests can look for and detect these antibodiesnot the virus itself. IgG appears soon after infection and stays in the blood for life. IgM is actually the first antibody that appears after infection, but it may disappear thereafter.

    IgM tests are not recommended because of three serious problems:

    The accurate herpes blood tests detect IgG antibodies. Unlike IgM, IgG antibodies can be accurately broken down to either HSV-1 or HSV-2. The challenge here is that the time it takes for IgG antibodies to reach detectable levels can vary from person to person. For one person, it could take just a few weeks, while it could take a few months for another. So even with the accurate tests, a person could receive a false negative if the test is taken too soon after contracting the virus.

    For the most accurate test result, it is recommended to wait 12 16 weeks from the last possible date of exposure before getting an accurate, type-specific blood test in order to allow enough time for antibodies to reach detectable levels.

    What You Need To Know

    • Fifty percent to 80 percent of U.S. adults have oral herpes.
    • Oral herpes can be spread through intimate contact with someone who is infected.
    • Oral herpes can be difficult to diagnose. Often confused with many other infections, it can only be confirmed with a virus culture called PCR, blood test or biopsy. PCR is the preferred test for diagnosing herpes infections.
    • The best treatment for oral herpes is antiviral oral medication. Symptomatic treatment may include antiviral ointment, over-the-counter topical anesthetics or over-the-counter anti-inflammatory agents.

    Whether you call it a cold sore or a fever blister, oral herpes is a common infection of the mouth area that is caused by herpes simplex virus type 1 . Fifty percent to 80 percent of U.S. adults have oral herpes. According to the National Institutes of Health, about 90 percent of adults have been exposed to the virus by age 50.

    Once infected, a person will have herpes simplex virus for the rest of his or her life. When inactive, the virus lies dormant in a group of nerve cells. While some people never develop any symptoms from the virus, others will have periodic outbreaks of infections.

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    When To Get Tested

    A herpes infection incubation period will normally be within the range of 2-12 days . 6

    Though the CDC does not recommend getting tested unless symptoms occur, if you do get tested, we recommend waiting up to 6 weeks after potential exposure, to ensure that your body has built up enough antibodies for a test to detect it, thus avoiding a false-negative .

    How Is Our Test Performed

    Oral Herpes and Genital Herpes. Symptoms and Treatment. Herpes Simplex Virus

    STDcheck.com believes that you have the right to know your status regardless of whether symptoms are affecting you or not, which is why youre able to purchase a herpes antibody blood test, without any type of physical inspection.

    You simply select your test, choose the lab closest to you, visit at your earliest convenience, and a lab technician will draw a sample of blood. Your blood is then inspected for antibodies to the herpes virus, and you receive results in 1-2 business days.

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    When Should I Get A Genital Or Oral Herpes Test

    Testing for the viruses that cause genital and oral herpes may be ordered when a patient develops signs and symptoms of a herpes infection. Although many people who contract HSV never notice symptoms, signs of an initial infection appear 2 to 20 days after infection and depend on the type of HSV causing the infection.

    When signs and symptoms of an initial infection occur, they may include:

    • Small sores on the skin
    • Tingling, itching, or burning on the skin
    • Fever, headache, or body aches
    • Swollen lymph nodes

    After the initial infection, HSV remains dormant inside of the body. HSV can reactivate throughout a patients life, causing symptoms of genital or oral herpes to reappear. While the trigger for an HSV outbreak is often unknown, potential triggers include a fever, stress, physical trauma, and a suppressed immune system.

    Generally, expert organizations do not recommend herpes testing for patients without symptoms. An exception may be made for certain patients, including:

    • Patients who have a partner with genital herpes
    • Patients seeking a more complete STD test panel, including people with multiple sexual partners
    • Babies born to a mother who has HSV

    What Are The Symptoms

    Many people have no symptoms during the initial infection or recurrences.

    However, for some people, initial infections may cause:

    • painful blisters, ulcers or sores
    • pain and swelling in the genital area which causes difficulty in urinating
    • flu-like symptoms
    • small cracks in the skin
    • redness or a rash

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    Treatment The First Time You Have Genital Herpes

    You may be prescribed:

    • antiviral medicine to stop the symptoms getting worse you need to start taking this within 5 days of the symptoms appearing
    • cream for the pain

    If you have had symptoms for more than 5 days before you go to a sexual health clinic, you can still get tested to find out the cause.

    Best For Quick Results: Stdcheck

    STI &  STD Testing Procedure Information for Men and Women

    STDcheck offers tests for both HSV-1 and HSV-2. A person can order an HSV-2 test for $45, or they can order a test for both HSV-1 and HSV-2 for $79. There is also an option to order a test package that tests for 10 different STIs.

    This option is best for people who need their results quickly.

    Collection method

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    Which Symptoms Mean I Should Get Checked

    Get tested for herpes if you have:

    • an outbreak of blisters, sores or lesions around the genital area
    • pain around the genital area
    • pain or discomfort when urinating

    As soon as you begin to see blisters around your genitals, you can try home testing or visit a clinic. Do this before the blisters begin to scab over and heal for the most accurate results. If you have no symptoms or suspect a false negative result, a blood test can be done. This will only show if you have ever been exposed to HSV and if you may have outbreaks in the future.

    Can Herpes Be Treated

    If your symptoms are already cleared, you may not need any medication. You will however need to learn more about how to manage your condition if an outbreak happens in the future.

    There are several antiviral medications you can take to manage or prevent outbreaks. Antiviral medication can shorten outbreaks by several days. Some can also suppress the virus, reducing the risk of spread to partners.

    Treatment options for herpes are:

    You can also apply a pain relief or numbing cream to the affected area. Local anaesthetic creams like Lidocaine can be used for such relief.

    Other ways to manage herpes outbreaks are to:

    • apply petroleum jelly as a barrier to skin contact
    • apply an ice pack wrapped in a towel to help numb and soothe painful sores
    • take a cool shower to soothe pain and irritation
    • avoid frequent washing and drying of the affected area
    • wear loose fitting clothes
    • take mild over the counter pain relievers if needed
    • drink plenty of water for better skin health

    When talking to your doctor, you will be asked to tell any previous partners so they can get tested. Your doctor or nurse may help you tell them anonymously if you prefer.

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